Jõulusoovide puu

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Moments experienced together that we look forward to with eagerness and excitement

The non-profit association SEB Heategevusfond got the idea of opening a round for applications to fund activities that families could enjoy together in the late spring of 2015. Connecting with a child and building a relationship with him or her is something the fund regards as very important. The project, enabling one to gain new experiences together with the family, offers an opportunity for all family members to get to know each other better outside their familiar environment of the home. Through fun activities it is also easier for the children to expand their world with new knowledge and skills.

In 2017, the families of group homes all over Estonia have filed nearly 100 applications, the larger part of which have already been realised as adventures experienced together. Here, some families of Estonian group homes will share their impressions of their new experiences.

The trip to Latvia was so great!

The family of 8 children from a group home in Tartu County went on a trip to Latvia on a summer’s day. The family got the idea when searching online for medieval strongholds that the children were currently learning about at school. The children wished to see such castle with their own eyes. Looking around online, the family found the funicular in Sigulda, which sparked a lot of excitement among the children. To be suspended in the air, like flying by aeroplane! While some children were a bit wary of entering Gutman's Cave, they were still too curious to let the opportunity pass. So, Latvia it was!

The day was great for the trip, the weather held up well and the family was studying the map together to see which direction they should take. However, their homework was done so well, that when the children arrived to a new place, they would cheer like meeting a long-lost friend. The children were particularly impressed by Turaida Castle and the awe-inspiring view from the top.

At Gutman's Cave, the children started to wonder, how such a cave could even have been formed. Everyone who could speak English could read all about it from the information plaque. For some children, this was a sign that they would have to put in more work at school to understand what was written in the foreign language... And the place where the questions really kept flying in was at the Āraiši lake fortification from Viking times: “Why are the houses so low? Is this where the gnomes used to live? Why are the houses so close together?

The cherry on top was riding the Sigulda funicular over the River Gauja. Many were intimidated by its height at first, but when the children heard that the grown-ups had the courage to join them, they took on the challenge together. The beautiful wide view dispelled the hesitation immediately. For this family, it was the first bigger event of travelling outside Estonia to discover the sights of nature and cultural history. Now the children are looking forward to their trip to Hiiumaa.

Exploring the Energy Discovery Centre

The eight special-needs children of a family from Lääne County, along with their teachers, already started getting ready for their outing several days beforehand. The girls were picking their outfits and the boys inquired about the location and building of the centre.
The Energy Discovery Centre is located in a building that is 104 years old. There are more than 130 exciting interactive displays teaching about energetics and the history of electricity production, renewable sources of electricity, voice and sound, light and optics, etc.

The children could move around freely and explore all of the displays, touch and even test them. Kati really loved the mirrors that magnified and split her body. The whole group carefully listened to the sounds heard from glass vessels and could see how Morse code messages were transmitted. This was particularly fascinating for the older boys. There was a round dome, where a small space trip could be taken with a rocket. There the children could see and feel how a rocket flies into the space and returns to earth. They also enjoyed the demonstration of lightning and took part in a hair-raising experiment with static electricity. This was the most fun part of the day.

After visiting the energy centre the family went to Kadriorg. As everyone was already very hungry and tired, they decided to rest a bit and have a snack. In Kadrioru Park, the children admired the beautiful flower arrangements and fountains and, of course, a trip was made to the playground.

It was a fun adventure. Trips with the whole family are always a novel and educational experience for the children and teachers alike. The children are always looking forward to those days spent together. For them, every situation is a new challenge, an opportunity to express their sincere emotions.’

Getting familiar with technology: “Let’s ride together”

“Let’s ride together” was an experience a technology-minded family from Lääne-Viru County could enjoy together. There are 7 boys and 1 girl (a little 3-year-old) in the family. The boys were really longing for a ride on ATVs and one opportunity for this was available right near their home. They were eager to arrive at the place, as only a few had actually ridden such a device before. First came the theory, where the young people were taught about safety and driving rules. Then the children could ask about anything that interested them. The instructor told them about the accidents that may happen when they fail to think about others around them and how important it is to follow the rules. Then, everyone could pick their models and try for themselves how it all worked in practice.

Here, the feeling came into play – how to ride it, what speed to choose and when to accelerate. They completed the track several times, in one direction and another, slower and faster, uphill and downhill. The boys understood that it was not the capacity of the machine that mattered, but the skills and experience of handling it. One should not become too arrogant, but be sensible, minding the safety of themselves and others. Riding ATVs together also gave the opportunity to grow mutual trust. The day with motors gave a valuable experience from the future perspective as well, because similar rules also apply in traffic. The young people were very happy with the day, as they got to do something exciting together.

To the Savoy Ball!

Sometimes a pleasant discussion over dinner might end up with taking a family to the theatre. In a discussion at the dinner table, an idea was conceived to get tickets to an operetta, and the teachers did not have any choice but to approve the choice made by the young people.
All five of them from a group home family in Järva County already made all the preparations for going to the theatre in the night before. They took out all their fancy clothes and made sure that the boys’ suits still fitted them by the end of summer. Then, they learned about traffic in Tallinn. It was the day of the SEB Autumn Run, meaning that it was wise to get acquainted with the tram and bus schedules early, to get to the theatre on time. Before the performance, they had a meal – not fast food, but at a nice restaurant instead, where the children could get an experience of a different kind of food and practise their table manners. The children really loved the food and the service – another real-life experience gained.

And now it was time for the operetta. The children got their tickets and began to find their way. Everyone found their seats on the balcony offering a great view of the stage and the orchestra. Both the theatre building itself and the play left an unforgettable experience on the participants. They said that they would like to visit another interesting play in the future.
The show was fun to follow, especially with all the spectacular costumes. The children could understand the events on the stage easily and enjoyed each episode in calm silence.

What is theatre without the buffet?! The children knew that the intermission might be too short for standing in the line, getting their drink and cake and taking the time to enjoy it. Sometimes there may be no time to get anything. But they did discover that it was possible to book a table with a menu of their choice in the theatre cafe for the next intermission. This was another useful thing to note, offering another pleasant emotion to take home with them.

Going to Rahinge with young people

Summer outings are becoming a tradition for this family from Tartu, with the help of applications to the charity fund’s projects. This time, eight young people from Tartu started a trip to Rahinge on bicycles. The total distance was 9 kilometres. Sometimes the cyclists took some breaks to wait up for the slower ones, get ice cream from the country shop and simply rest. There was just the right amount of sun and wind and the trip was easy.

Some teachers arrived early to the campsite to deliver the tents and food. Without even unpacking their things, the tireless campers proceeded to check out the sand-covered pitch and started a football match. When they got tired of the game, they set up their tents and it soon became clear that nothing is better for the appetite than some fresh air. The solyanka, which was made fresh in their home kitchen early in the morning, disappeared from their bowls as though magic was involved. Their praise goes out to our cooking student Sass! While the bigger ones were eating, the smaller adventurers had time to go for a swim.

The highlight of the event was wakeboarding in the evening. First, the smaller ones tried it out: as it was their first time, they had a hard time trying to make the water, board and their feet cooperate. The children spent more time with their faces immersed in the water than coming up for air, but this did not ruin their spirits. Some of the young people managed really well in the water. They completed several laps and tried all kinds of tricks on water skis. Water sports were rather tiring, the hands were giving out in the end and the legs were aching. But it was not a problem for them, as riding on the water was so enjoyable. After wakeboarding, they returned to the campsite for a new challenge – having to haul the large grill to their camp.

When the food had been prepared and eaten, the sun was already quite low and there were fewer and fewer people seen around. The activities and the fresh air had done their job. The older ones kicked the ball around a bit, while the smaller ones were already sound asleep on the mattress in their tent. A bright full moon shone that night. The ones who were a bit less tired hauled their sleeping bags out of the tent and enjoyed the sight of the great moon rising.

The morning came early the next day. The children grilled sandwiches in tinfoil for breakfast. Then they went to ride in tubes – it is like snowtubing, but not downhill, they were pulled along in the water by a cable. It was incredibly awesome, especially after you got your speed up. Ball games and swimming, swimming and ball games – a summer day goes fast with games and sports! Going back home, the hearts of all the children were beating with satisfaction at spending time and doing activities with their family.

Doing things together gives a sense of community!

Over the course of two years, 20 group home families have taken part in the application programme. In total, 187 applications were received from group home families, most of which have already been realised as experiences. To have fun with their families, children along with their care parents have been taken to the ash hill of Kiviõli, as well as Kuutsemäe, Alutaguse adventure park and the island of Prangli, hiking trails and abroad, and on many adventures full of new experiences and emotions.

The purpose of doing things together is to expand the child’s world and support his or her development through activities. It is important to offer more equal opportunities for the families and children to aid development that is appropriate for their age and abilities and to reinforce new family traditions. The two years so far have shown a growth in the number of applications and increasing interest in spending time with the family. The fund considers it to be a sign to keep offering these opportunities of exploration for the families.


Participate Thank you, if you have already supported our charity programme or if you are going to do it in the future! Sign a standing payment order contract in SEB Internet Bank for 3 euros a month or support with a single donation.